Saturday, 28 May 2011

Turning weakness into strength

A while ago I watched 'The Long Walk to Finchley', a BBC dramatisation about the early political career of Margaret Thatcher. One thing I remember from it is a scene where Thatcher is despairing of ever finding a winnable seat. Her husband Dennis gives her the advice to turn her greatest weakness into her greatest strength. Her perceived weakness was the fact that she was a woman and in the dramatisation she then goes on to turn this into her biggest strength.

Now, this may have happened or it may not have, but it doesn't matter. The advice itself is sound and I think that's what the Liberal Democrats should be doing now. At the moment we're hesitant to mention our record in government on the doorstep because of the perception that it's our role in government which has made us unpopular. And, to be fair, this is probably true.

But it's only a weakness because we let it be a weakness. Instead of being apologetic about it and just talking about local issues, we should be crowing about it. Fine, the tuition fees decision was unpopular, but how about restoring the earnings link to pensions? How about scrapping ID cards and child detention? How about building a green economy? How about providing an extra £2.5billions of funding to help the poorest pupils in the country? How about taking millions of the poorest people in the country out of paying tax altogether?

There's a lot that we've achieved in government that should be popular. But no one knows about it because we're too hesitant to mention it on the doorstep or in leaflets out of fear that reminding people of the coalition will put them off.

Well, let's face it. People who are that upset about the coalition probably weren't going to vote for us in the first place. But there are plenty of people who'd probably consider voting for us if they knew about all the good things we were doing. We need to be bolder and prouder about our achievements. After all, if we don't talk about them, who else will?

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